When Crying At Work Is Not a Bad Thing

By Amy W., NetApp employee


Some people might wonder how it is possible to be with a company as long as I have. The simple truth is that I told myself that the minute I stop feeling challenged and valued, I would look for a new gig. That day has never come.


Every four or five years I have either found, developed, designed or been asked to take on a new challenge at NetApp. I’ve worked in three departments and am about to move to a fourth. This has given me exposure to many sides of the business, to people I would have never known and provided me with a very diverse background on which to draw when faced with everyday tasks and issues.  I am eternally grateful to work for a company that gives you chances to spread your wings. 



When I am asked to name one thing that really illustrates our culture and makes NetApp a “great place to work” I am taken back to March of 2000…



I was 8 months pregnant with my first child and we were having an All Hands meeting. There I was standing at the back of the room getting restless, as people generally do during these types of events, but enjoying the opportunity to hear our executives share their thoughts and strategies.  As they transitioned to the stage to start an executive panel the CEO at the time, Dan Warmenhoven, pointed to an empty chair and said, “As we get ready to get this panel started, I wanted to point out that we have an empty chair up here on the stage. This is Chris’ chair…”  Chris was the VP of HR at this time. He went on to say “I asked to have this chair remain empty because I wanted to make a point.  Chris’ fourth grade son is giving a presentation today at school. He was really nervous about delivering a speech and he asked his mom if she would come to support him at school.” 



Dan continued, “Chris knew this meeting was today and it was very important to me. But we talked about it and I want to emphasize that Chris made the right decision today. Her son needed her.  She has a family and a life and it is important that we stay focused on what is really important.  Don’t get me wrong. When you are here I want you to work hard. But I also want you all to have a life outside of NetApp. If you don’t have a life – go out and get one! Now, let’s get started….”



I had tears streaming down both cheeks and I looked around to see many people who were also touched. It is not every day you have a CEO point out that he wants his employees to have a life.  Working around the clock has never been a big part of the culture here. Of course there are those who don’t know how to work any other way. But most leaders at NetApp value a well-rounded team. Being good people, supporting our peers, communities, schools and families is a big part of what it means to work at NetApp. 


Twelve years have passed since that meeting at Great America and I now have three children ages 12, 10 and 6.  I can honestly say that this company follows through with the promise of work-life balance.


Hi Amy -

I never actually comment on any of our posts because I have a hand in picking them but had to for this one. As a mom of two kids myself, I really love the focus on famiy and culture at NetApp. This story really touched me because you have been at NetApp for a long time and the fact that you still feel this way, after all these years and all the growth that NetApp has done - is really powerful. Thanks for sharing your story.

This is the part of my job I love the most!

Tina Ashamalla

Social Media Marketing Manager

Nothing makes me prouder to have worked at NetApp (I'm currently retired) than to hear this story and be reminded of the good people at the top of the org chart who have instilled a feeling of being nice (while still being competitive) from the very beginning.    ...Tim...


I have had several similar experiences with my managers at NetApp over the past 3 years that mimic your story. It is easy for executives to say they value the people, but when you see it played out by line managers every day, you know it is a true value and lip service.
Thanks for sharing,


oops meant to say

...  when you see it played out by line managers every day, you know it is is a true value and NOT lip service !


Thanks for sharing this heartwarming story. I wasn't yet working at NetApp when this happened, but I can see why it was a memorable event for everyone there that day! Dan's leadership set a strong foundation for NetApp, and truly valuing people remains a focus of our culture today.

~Mercedes Adams,

Guiding Coalition Program Mgr

Thank you for sharing this story.  I don't usually leave comments, but feel like I should here.  I have been very fortunate to have worked at NetApp during the most difficult times of my life - everyone from my manager to peers to people who even barely knew me at NetApp were beyond supportive.  This is something that is very special to me and am so grateful for the positive experiences.  While it's far from perfect, it's not everyday that you'll find such a great company like NetApp.

amy Netapp Alumni

Thanks readers! Seems as though I hit a bit of a nerve. It is clear that I am not alone in my appreciation for the executive leadership of this company. 

familly are important.  I like that  you have workjed for the same company for so long but i have moved around to loads of jobs.  I can allways count on my mum to be there where as the jobs may come and go.  I think your message with the carir being left empty to make a statement is a good one and i wish more people would realise that whilst work is improtant its not the be all and end all. Great post thanks